Discussing what's right till there's nothing left.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Climate Paradigm Effect

I used to do management consulting. Among our tools was a video produced by a company called Future Edge run by futurist Joel Barker.  In it he examined missed opportunities in the business world that were due to people being locked into existing patterns of thought and behavior that caused an inability to see new opportunities as they emerged. He called it the Paradigm Effect. New ideas that challenged the existing orthodoxy sometimes caused physical discomfort and had to be discarded. You might also call it the Galileo Effect.

In science this can lead to exclusion of meaningful data points as outliers. In climate science this may explain why computer models and observable data diverge and so few are willing to question the 'consensus'. Indeed to do so can lead to being ostracized and ridiculed. A global consensus of scientists, government officials, and ordinary people are shouting in unison that we must 'save the planet' in their words. A large number of these people have no idea if that's the case of course but are repeating what they heard.

Yet a small minority has also examined the underlying data collected by various means and found some disturbing details. Across the scientific and government community data that doesn't support the prevailing theory is being manipulated or discarded altogether. It would be easy to assign a sinister reason for it, and there may be some of that, but more likely we're dealing with the Paradigm Effect.

The story Barker likes to tell is about the Swiss watch making industry of the 20th century. You know who invented the quartz movement, he asks? The Swiss. But they couldn't fathom that it had any value. It had no gears, didn't need to be wound, and in fact the early ones were clunky and required two hands to operate (kind of like the Watch from Apple :). So they didn't even protect the patent. The Japanese picked up the idea and the rest is history.

It's hard to break through an existing paradigm. And sometimes the cost of failing to do so is enormous.

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